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Joni Woolf: Easy chicken marsala makes a great summertime meal

Earlier this week, my daughter Carey Wooten brought me dinner (which is not at all unusual); she not only brought it, she cooked the asparagus on site, then joined me at table. It was a lovely meal. I was especially impressed with her Chicken Marsala/Bryan. Back in April, I wrote about the variety chicken offers, and gave three chicken recipes, one of which was called Chicken Marsala. Good as that was, this one takes chicken to another level.  Maybe it’s the goat cheese—or the pecan oil. Whatever changes ordinary to sublime, this recipe has it.  So I asked Carey to write about how she created it, and here it is, in her words:
Twenty or so years ago, Carrabba’s, in Macon, was the hip, new place to go for interesting food. My husband and I would travel there from Montezuma for “date nights,” often to meet my mother or friends from Macon, and enjoy Carrabba’s fun atmosphere and fun food—“chain” Italian, for sure, but better than average, we thought, with menu items we had never heard of. Two of our favorites were the chicken and steak Marsala, and the chicken Bryan. All of these recipes, like so many others, can be easily found on the internet now, but over the years, as I’ve tried to imitate them, I’ve merged the chicken recipes to create my own Chicken Marsala/Bryan, an unusual mix of flavors that takes me back to those   “date nights” and good times with family friends in Macon.
The ingredients, with a few editorial remarks included, include:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts–the smaller the better, but small is difficult to find; butterfly the breasts if they’re especially large
1-2 cups of Marsala wine
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Pecan Oil—Center Stage Market carries Oliver Farm’s Pecan Oil from Pitts, Georgia.
This is a great oil for sautéing, less likely to burn than olive, and tasty—and
Georgia Grown!!
Roasted red pepper—you can buy these in a jar, or buy one fresh and blister in the oven
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
One pkg. of goat cheese, sliced into 6-8 pieces
2T butter
1T flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

Marinate chicken breasts in Marsala wine, 2 hours or more, along with some minced garlic
Heat pecan oil in skillet then brown chicken breasts in hot oil, a minute or two on each side. Set aside in casserole dish.  After all chicken is browned, melt butter in pan, sauté garlic, and add flour, then one cup Marsala wine. Add water or chicken broth to extend/thin. Pour gravy over the chicken. Top chicken with strips of roasted red pepper and cut up basil leaves. Cover and bake 30 minutes at 350. After 30 minutes, baste chicken with gravy and add slices of goat cheese to tops of chicken, along with more basil. Bake 15 more minutes, still covered. Serve chicken and gravy over rice or pasta—or not, if you’re cutting calories! A good side dish is grilled or steamed asparagus, topped only with salt and lemon juice.
There are plenty of opportunities for variations. Mushrooms could be added just before making the gravy. More, or less, garlic could be used, along with varied amounts of salt and pepper. Tomatoes could be added at the end, under the cheese. Yum! And, my husband would add onions, always.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net.